Welcome

Dear Citizen Astronomers,

Brace yourself for a great December Asteroid Month, we have pretty exciting news to come very soon!

In the meantime, why don’t you try to observe a Near-Earth Asteroid (NEA) 500 meters large, hence a reasonably big one, 2000 WO107 will flyby on the 29th of November at a mere 11 lunar distance, which is enough to keep us safe on Earth while making a good opportunity to study it. Here is the link about HowTo make a NEA observation.

For European users, and especially if you are in the UK, we suggest you take a look at the stephaniebarnes asteroid occultation. Why ? Because it was named to honor one of the lead engineers of the OSIRIS-Rex mission, the one which very recently collected a sample of asteroid Bennu, with the intent to bring it back to Earth on September 2023. Here is the link about HowTo make an asteroid occultation observation

Clear skies,

The Unistellar Citizen Science Team

Learn more !

Main goal : Advancing science

  • Involving eVscope users in scientific observation campaigns
  • Build a community where every users can speak about their passion
  • Making the eVscope a leisure as a scientific tool

What is it ?

It is an astronomical event defined by the passage of an object in front of a star.
The star is completely or partially obscured. Here we will be interested by asteroid occultation. For example, see the next GIF.

Why observe them ?

Asteroids have long remained unknown to our scientists. We have been interested in asteroids since the end of the 20th century. The only way we have to study these objects from the earth, is to observe them. And the best way to observe them is occultations.

If a lot of people observe the same occultation at different places, we can mix every result and make the trajectory more precise (which is important for hazardous asteroid*), modulate it shape, discover moons or rings and perhaps help discover the origins of life.

HowTo guide

First, go to our occultation prediction page and select the occultation you want to do.

To find out if an occultation is passing through your home, simply zoom by scrolling on the map. If you live between the two orange lines, you are able to see the occultation.

For your information :

CEST/CET time* is the Central Europe Summer Time. It concerned France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Switzerland etc…

BST/GMT time* concerned only Portugal and United Kingdom

EEST/EET time* concerned only Finland

 

Check this complete how to guide on how to catch one with your Unistellar eVscope.

Before the occultation :

✔️ Check the weather 
We suggest you use the clearoutside app or website.
(see p.13 in the User Manual link)

✔️ Clear the memory of your eVscope
WARNING : this step can take up to 30 minutes – 2 hours depending on your Internet connection.
(p.7 in the User Manual link)

✔️ Charge the battery of your eVscope

✔️ Look for updates the Unistellar application (Apple and Android stores).

An hour before the occultation begins:

✔️ Level the tripod and install your eVscope 
Turn it on, connect it to your phone and you are ready to start !
(see p.16 in the User Manual link)

✔️ Check the accuracy of the time on your phone 
Use the Time.is website : https://time.is/
(see p.9 in the User Manual link)

Capture a screenshot of your phone

✔️ Connect your phone to the eVscope and launch the application 

The application will synchronize its time on your phone, so it is important you start the application AFTER having used time.is as indicates here.

✔️ Launch Autonomous Field Detection
So that your eVscope knows precisely how to go to the occulted star.
(see p.18 in the User Manual link)

✔️ Focus 
By pointing one of the first stars recommended by the app and using the Bahtinov Mask.
(see p.23 in the User Manual link)

✔️ Optional step : collimation
If your stars look like “potatoes” and have elongated shape, you need to collimate your  mirror.
Check then this article from our FAQ : https://unistellaroptics.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/360002267334-Collimation
(see p.21 in the User Manual link)

 

In the “Target” field enter the RA/DEC parameters and press GOTO 15 min before the beginning of the occultation.

In the “recording” tab enter the Gain, Exposure and Duration parameters, check again your values and click on “Launch” at the start time.

 

Note: Once the recording has started, you can now switch back to the eVscope tab in order to try to see the occultation in real time. Please note that this is a really difficult event to catch on camera.

Do not activate Enhanced Vision during recording: it will damage your data.

🏡 Once at home :

✔️ Transfer your data

Once recording is over, please transfer your data. (If you need help please check : https://help.unistellar.com/hc/en-us/articles/360013803619-eVscope-Data-Storage-Memory-Downloading-and-Uploading-Data )

✔️ Tell Unistellar that you participated
To make sure your contribution is properly processed, please fill out this very short survey by telling us your name, the serial number of your eVscope and if you agree that your name can be mentioned in the EURASTER report on their website (keep in mind to prove the accuracy of your observation, its GPS coordinates will be published too).

What is it ?

Planetary defense is the observation of hazardous asteroids. This type of asteroid is characterized by their orbit which crosses the orbit of the earth. Thus, these asteroids can potentially, collide with our planet.

Why observe them ?

Observing these asteroids allows us to refine the trajectories and determine their sizes and shapes, which are still little known. By doing so, we participate in the protection of our blue planet.

HowTo guide

Read the Planetary Defense Program of the current month to discover the targets. Two scenarios, the Near-Earth Asteroid is or is not in the Unistellar application’s database.

 

If the NEA is in the database : 

✔️ Connect your phone to the eVscope and launch the application 

✔️ Launch Autonomous Field Detection
So that your eVscope knows precisely how to go to the occulted star.
(see p.18 in the User Manual link)

✔️ Click on the “Explore menu”

Enter the name of the asteroid and click on GoTo.

✔️ Enhance vision “menu”

Once the GoTo is done, activate the Enhance vision and click at the top left in the parameters. Then observe the duration indicated in the current Planetary Defense Program and adjust it if it is necessary.

✔️ Dark frame

At the end of the observation, take a dark frame with the Science Menu. Set theses following parameters :

  • Gain: 25dB
  • Exposure time: 3971ms
  • Duration: 02m00s

A tutorial picture below.

✔️ Transfer your data

Please, upload your data.

✔️ Tell Unistellar that you participated
Then, send us a LOG at citizenscience@unistellaroptics.com with :

  • Your eVscopeID
  • The city where you observed
  • Asteroid’s name
  • Time you start/end the observation
  • Time you did the darkframe

If the NEA is NOT in the database : 

You will need to calculate by yourself, the ephemeris. What is an ephemeris? It is a table or a data file which give you the position of a celestial event in function of your location and the time.

✔️ Compute the ephemeris from your location with Horizons: 
Horizon Website: https://ssd.jpl.nasa.gov/horizons.cgi
Video Tutorial: https://youtu.be/K8lNw7UpueI

✔️ Connect your phone to the eVscope and launch the application

✔️ Launch Autonomous Field Detection
So that your eVscope knows precisely how to go to the occulted star.
(see p.18 in the User Manual link)

Then, in the “Science” menu, click on “Asteroid occultation” mode. At the bottom, you have the possibility to enter the coordinates of the asteroid. Here, enter what the ephemeris gave you and do not forget to click on “GoTo”

✔️ Enhance vision “menu”

n the “eVscope Menu”, start enhanced vision 10 min before the date of the ephemeris you have used and observe for 20 min.

✔️ Dark frame

At the end of the observation, take a dark frame with the Science Menu. Set theses following parameters :

  • Gain: 25dB
  • Exposure time: 3971ms
  • Duration: 02m00s

A tutorial picture below.

✔️ Transfer your data

Please, upload your data.

✔️ Tell Unistellar that you participated
Then, send us a LOG at citizenscience@unistellaroptics.com with :

  • Your eVscopeID
  • The city where you observed
  • Asteroid’s name
  • Ephemeris table
  • Time of the ephemeris / radec selected
  • Time you did the darkframe

Watch asteroid Ottilia occult a star !

citizen science occultation

Ready for your first occultation ?

Click here to find out if an occultation will happen near your location!

After you’ve participated in an occultation campaign, we invite you to fill out this form in function of your zone : USA form, Europe form. It will enable us to take your observations into account more easily.

Unistellar is also launching a beta Planetary Defense program, check out the dedicated section to find out how you can participate.

Are you willing to contribute to citizen science with your eVscope for one of these campaigns? Please send us an email at citizenscience@unistellaroptics.com

"What a Feeling:" A Testimonial from an Occultation's Detector

Here is what Morand, one of Unistellar’s first citizen astronomers, wrote about his detection of asteroid 2000 UD52:

When I received this occultation “mission”, I was a little confused. It seemed quite simple, the event was known, so no chance discovery by amateurs … But hey, I played the game. I had just received the telescope.

Excited but a little late as always, I followed the procedure and … I saw nothing … However, I sent the data. And, a few days later, I learned that the occultation was clearly visible on the data, that I was the only Unistellar to have observed it, and that the scientific value was real : the occultation was very brief, 0.3s (the predicted maximum was 0.8s), therefore particularly difficult considering the small size of the asteroid (~ 6.6 km) and the width of its centrality band.

Having observers near and into the centrality band will allow to better determine the position of the asteroid, and therefore to refine its orbit ! What a feeling !”

eVscope telescope